Biofortification of Staple Crops: An Emerging Strategy to Combat Hidden Hunger.

Abstract

Diverse diets rich in micronutrients offer the ultimate sustainable solution to undernutrition. Unfortunately, poverty drives food consumption habits. For the poor, a simple meal consisting mostly of staple foods make up the daily diet. A diet based predominantly on staple food lacks adequate essential nutrients and thus can lead to hidden hunger. The biofortification strategy targets the poor by naturally adding nutrients to these staple foods through plant breeding. Biofortified crops offer a rural-based intervention that, by design, initially reach these more remote populations, which comprise a majority of the undernourished in many countries, and then extend to urban populations as production surpluses are marketed. In this way, biofortification complements fortification and supplementation programs, which currently work best in centralized urban and peri-urban areas and then reach into rural areas only with good infrastructure. Initial investments in agricultural research at a central location can generate high recurrent benefits at low cost as adapted biofortified varieties become available in country after country across time at low recurrent costs. HarvestPlus is working to develop and distribute varieties of food staples that are high in iron, zinc, and provitamin A through an interdisciplinary, global alliance of scientific institutions and implementing agencies in developing and developed countries.

Citation

Symposium on "Food Technology for Better Nutrition". Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Safety (2008) 7 (4) 329-334

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